publik18.blogspot.com/2008/07/housing-crisis-forcing-peop..." data-caption="SYDNEY's housing crisis is driving people onto the streets. A Wesley Mission study found 71 per cent of respondents identified the housing crisis as the major reason for them becoming homeless. Of those, 88 per cent said accumulated debt and unexpected financial crisis were factors. "Contrary to popular perception, while alcohol and drugs can keep people on the streets, they are not the main pathway to homelessness," Wesley Mission chief executive, the Reverend Keith Garner, said.publik18.blogspot.com/2008/07/housing-crisis-forcing-peop..." data-credit="publik16/Flickr">
Long hair, hipster beard, heavy black coat and scuffed work boots.
In another life he could be making craft beer or working in an ad agency.
This life only occupies about 200 metres.
He spends his nights in the doorway of a mobile phone shop, the garish lights of the looping commercials flogging the latest and greatest smart phones providing an interesting nightlight.
Morning. He rolls up his bedding, carefully and methodically arranges that and his life in a shopping trolley and slowly and rather purposely wheels it just up the road to his bus stop. To the edge of his world. The buggered wheel of the trolley a metaphor.
He parks at his bus stop all day, no need or want to catch one, staring into space, occasionally wandering off somewhere -- not too far in case somebody knocks his stuff off, then back to his bus stop, then the mobile phone shop. Repeat.
I don't know his name. I see him out of my office window as he carries out his daily ritual. And I carry out mine.
He looks about mid-forties, but who knows? It's hard to tell. He's probably lived a few lifetimes.
He's homeless, and harmless.
He doesn't hassle anyone for money, doesn't randomly yell out expletives or even quote Shakespeare like a character I encountered in the Sydney CBD years ago. He just quietly goes about his business as everyone goes about theirs, pretending he doesn't exist.
He's homeless, and faceless.
What was that song? Mr Cellophane.
He could be you, he could be me. Depends how the cards fall.
I saw him at his bus stop the other day. I nodded and sort-of-smiled, didn't want to freak him out. He nodded and sort-of-smiled back, didn't want to freak me out.
Everyone avoids him, nobody sits at the bus stop -- they stand -- willing the bus to arrive to take them away from him. Who knows? Maybe he prefers it that way.
We all have a story. What's his? Why is his life just 200 metres?
He could be you, he could be me.
I made a call, not to complain, just to check if he's doing okay. They know him, they've had him in hostels, but he lives by his own rules. They keep an eye on him. That's the main thing.
I met a man who wasn't there,
He wasn't there again today...